Sat, 17 Apr, 2021

UNFOLDED STORIES: EARTHQUAKE NEPAL 2015

By Nikita Gautam

Unforeseen Life

"Am I really flying?  No no this can't be possible. No way!!!" she was whispering in her dreams… "Ranjana baby, get up now. It's 8:15 in the morning aren't you already late for work?", shouted my her mother. "Mothers are eventually all alike", she cried aloud and got up frustrated. Another boring Monday, she thought and got herself dressed. Ranjana was a 22 year old graduate student of computer science and had a boyfriend apparently, as most of the young people have partners these days. His name was Nishant, an average height, and average looking guy with same age as Ranjana. They fell in love in high school but their relationship lasted longer than most. Economically Ranjana's family status was stronger than that of Nishant’s and he always got upset due to this fact. In an underdeveloped country like Nepal however average-looking, dumb or self-righteous prick you are, you get the best girl in the town if you have got enough money.  Like every other girl in town Ranjana had to choose her family over her love.

Although she never wanted to marry someone other than Nishant, she was forced to do so. Her dad threatened by emotionally blackmailing her. She could not afford but to let go of her love. Nishant could not bear thought of losing her so he decided to go far away from her life. Even though Nishant loved Ranjana more than anything else in this world, he could not afford to go and ask her hand from her father. His situation was very critical at that moment. Although their relationship was hurt and broken into pieces they respected each other and decided to remember each other forever. Love is never perceived, as it should have been in countries like Nepal. If someone is in love he/she has committed the biggest crime that even god cannot forgive. You are forced to leave that special person and get married. Not only girls are victim of this culture in Nepal, in many families boys have also been treated the same.

Ranjana, what could she have done? Like any other girl she learned to compromise with her life. Slowly she began developing feelings for her husband, though their physical relationship had begun the day of their marriage. Another bitter truth, whether you like it or not if you get married you have to fulfill your husband's needs. This is what we have been taught throughout our life. However in Ranjana's case she was the one who could not speak and she accepted what she was taught from childhood. Mahesh, her husband, he neither could sense discomfort in her eyes nor he tried to. Time passed by and things became normal day by day. Nishant no longer existed in Ranjana's life but still sometimes when she sat alone inhaling the cool breeze, she closed her eyes and suddenly Nishant's smiling face would give her  goosebumps.

A year passed and suddenly one day, Ranjana received the exciting news of her pregnancy. Mahesh loved her like a normal husband loves a normal wife, nothing to lose nothing more to achieve. Mahesh then started taking care of ranjana more than usual. After 8 months and 24 days of her pregnancy she gave birth to a beautiful little girl. Days passed by and their daughter was 8 months old. Their family was perfect. Ranjana was happy with her life now. She was doing her job, loved her husband, her family, and her loving daughter and was satisfied with her life now.

Saturday, 25th April 2015, a normal Saturday morning arrived. Ranjana and Mahesh had to attend a family reception that day. Ranjana was finally relieved that she got half a day that she could spend with her family at last. Like any other Saturday morning they were having dinner at around 10 in the morning and suddenly Mahesh's phone vibrated. Ranjana tried to pick it up but Mahesh awkwardly snatched it from her,  she did not notice it.  He suddenly said that there was a situation in office that he had to handle immediately and left home. Ranjana did not notice this awkward behavior of his. She said, "OK. But try to come home soon. We don't get to spend time together often these days.", with a wide smile attached at the end.  He kissed her lips before he left home, she felt awkward and shy like a teenager. He would not often kiss her lips before he left home. Then she thought, why is he acting so strange nowadays. He would come bringing her gifts and take care of her like she was a delicate flower. This thought was difficult for her to conceive.

After completing her household tasks, she was putting her baby girl to sleep after breastfeeding. She had just gotten up from the bed while her room started shaking. She felt the grounds as her legs shook so hard she could not hold herself still. People started screaming and shouting and running. She could not think of anything else. She grabbed her daughter and she was awake too. Things in her room started falling, and smashing on the floor. Her mind was totally blank, she could not think of anything but saving her daughter. Trying to avoid falling objects she ran towards the entrance door. Her neighbors had already gathered and were literally crying and holding each other. She was blank, she felt like she had no emotions left. She only thought about her daughter and held her tightly as she could. Thank goodness their home was on ground floored. After everybody had gathered in the so-called open space of their area and the first tremor stopped. She started noticing her neighbors and slowly turned sidewards and took a glance. Most of the houses around her neighborhood were destroyed.

Owner of those houses had gathered some crying for help from inside the house. Many were trapped many killed but she didn't lose a grip holding her daughter. Ground was shaking and shaking for so long. Aftershocks were frequent, dangerously and suddenly arriving. Still Ranjana's mind was unelaborated outside her daughter's grip. Moments later, thought about Mahesh pinched her mind and she became aware. She grabbed her cell phone, which was luckily inside her pocket and dialed his number. But damn it cell phones were all dead. No one was able to contact his or her loved ones. Tensed faces encircled her and now she started worrying about her husband. Suddenly her elder brother came across the street. She was surprised and hugged him and cried at last. He kissed his niece and asked her about Mahesh. She told him that he is out of contact. Her brother could not risk her and her daughter's life at risk. So he took risk and went inside the house to grab necessary things and locked the house taking both of them somewhere safe. 2 days passed, people were sleepless but aftershocks never stopped. Here Ranjana's eyes swelled out of crying. Her family was continuously making efforts for finding Mahesh. Then suddenly on the third day, her brother told her to let her mom take care of her daughter for a while and go with him. She obeyed him and asked all way long about where was he planning to take her. He did not speak a word.

Ranjana felt a sudden anger in her spine. Here she was worried about her lost husband and her brother would not speak a word and behave strangely. She was trying to control her anger when he stopped at New Bus park area. Everything was worse than hell at that place. Rescue teams were pulling dead naked out like dead animals. She could not see this scene but she had to. Almost all the houses were completely damaged. People were still trying to search for people alive. Suddenly her brother grabbed her hand and started dragging her somewhere. She asked but he did not speak a word. He then stopped suddenly and Ranjana drew her sight from her brother to two dead naked bodies just in front of her.  She could not believe what she saw.

Her husband's body was lying dead and naked beside a girl much more younger than him and also naked. She could not think of anything else and fainted right on the ground. She could not believe what her eyes had just seen. Her brother tried to hold her but she jerked his hand off . She got up by herself, moved towards her husband's body and spitted in his dead naked lying body.  She said, "Who the hell were you to cheat on me, you deserved this you Bastard. May his soul rot in hell. Dada please don't bring his body in front of me for the rituals. Inform his family about his death. Neither am I going to cry for this man nor my daughter is going to remember that she ever got a father like this sick bastard." She turned her face around from the dead bodies and left with her brother.

Everyone  came to know about the news and tried to console her. However she convinced her family to not let anyone talk to her about her husband. She did not even shed a tear and started taking care of her daughter as she normally did. Tremors of earthquake also did not affect her. She became like a stoned women. She threw all his belongings out of her house. Mahesh's family was also ashamed of what he did so they never spoke of him after the funeral was over in front of Ranjana. No person could understand her reaction. Either she was bold enough to hold the pain of loss inside her or she was broken in such a way she could not handle and let her emotions walk away. Life started becoming normal after a month of the hazardous earthquake but aftershocks did not stop. Ranjana went back to her work, where people heard about her husband's news and no person dared to bring up his topic in front of her.

I cannot figure out what was the reason behind such a pale reaction of Ranjana. What may be going inside her mind? Might she be thinking about Mahesh and feeling relieved after getting rid of him or she is troubled so heavily that she can't even think about Mahesh? These thoughts haunt me every night before I go to sleep. What might Ranjana be thinking?.........

Author Biography: Nikita Gautam is a fourth semester student at DWIT.